Ban Ki Moon Surge Failing Diyala Bridge

Ban Ki-moon: Surge Failing
Diyala Bridge Blown Up
Mashhadani not going Quietly

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in his quarterly report on Iraq that the “surge” in Iraq is failing. The file of the original document can be found via this page. Ban writes,

‘ 3. Despite the initial success of stepped-up security measures in recent months, the situation in Iraq remains precarious. Insurgent attacks persist and civilian casualties continue to mount. While there was a brief lull in the level of sectarian violence early in the reporting period, it now appears that militia forces are resuming their activities, including targeted killings and kidnappings. The threat that the violence poses to the political process was illustrated by the bombing in the Iraqi Parliament on 12 April that resulted in the death of one lawmaker and injured several others. The Council of Representatives met in an extraordinary session the following day to condemn the attack and show its defiance. South of Baghdad, rising political tension in Basra and Qadissiya provinces resulted in an escalation of violence in those governorates. The Government of Iraq continued to engage leaders from across the political and religious spectrum to promote its national reconciliation plan. The efforts of the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to reconcile demands within his governing coalition were further challenged by the withdrawal of support by key allies in his Government. . .

33. Despite growing awareness and concern regarding the humanitarian crisis in Iraq, the situation deteriorated steadily during the reporting period. The violence has resulted in a protection crisis which dominates discussions related to a humanitarian response. For every death reported in the news, six family members on average are left without a breadwinner. The rising number of displaced persons is also a cause for concern. UNHCR estimates that displacement has continued at an undiminished pace and over 800,000 Iraqis have been internally displaced since the Samarra mosque bombing in February 2006, while 30,000 to 50,000 flee to neighbouring countries each month.

34. The violence is also having a major impact on Iraqi children and their ability to attend school. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Central S/2007/330 07-36438 9 Organization for Statistics and Information Technology of the Ministry of Planning and Cooperation Development and the Kurdish Regional Statistics Office recently published a preliminary report of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey which estimated that 17 per cent of primary school-age children were not attending school in 2005 and 2006. This translates into approximately 765,000 children, of whom 61 per cent were girls, even before the recent escalation in the numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons. Dropout rates are also increasingly outstripping school participation. Only 34 per cent of girls and 43 per cent of boys of secondary school age were attending secondary school in 2005 and 2006. . .

46. The security situation in Iraq remains complex and unpredictable and is a major limiting factor for the United Nations presence and activities in Iraq. The major development in the reporting period was the increased threat of indirect fire into the International Zone. These attacks have become increasingly concentrated and accurate and often consist of multiple mortars and rockets landing within minutes of each other. The International Zone experienced 17 attacks in March, 30 in April and 39 by 22 May alone. Since 19 February, indirect fire attacks have reportedly resulted in the deaths of 26 people in the International Zone. The security situation has been further compounded by the increase in car bombs in the vicinity of entry checkpoints to the International Zone. Armed groups operating in Baghdad have demonstrated their ability to strike at well-protected, strategic targets, such as the suicide bombing inside the Parliament building on 12 April. . .

60. Iraq’s political and social fabric continued to come under considerable strain during the reporting period as a result of ongoing political, sectarian and criminal violence. Despite the efforts of the Iraqi and multinational security forces to stem violence, progress was slower than had been hoped when security initiatives were launched at the start of 2007. This has been demonstrated by continued attacks on the civilian population, physical infrastructure and political institutions such as the Council of Representatives. . .

62. The Sharm el-Sheikh meetings demonstrated that the international community, while recognizing the complexities of the situation, is willing to work together in solidarity with Iraq. It is now incumbent upon Iraqi leaders to implement the commitments for the benefit of the citizens of Iraq. Given the continued violence, which is testing the country’s unity, additional efforts are needed for confidencebuilding through national dialogue. The United Nations stands ready to support the Government of Iraq in this regard. . . ‘

Guerrillas blew up another bridge in Iraq on Monday, this time over the Diyala River in Diyala province. Its destruction will make drivers from northeastern Diyala who want to go to Baghdad take a route through Baquba, among the more violent cities in Iraq. Guerrillas are attempting to cause Iraqi society and government to collapse by hitting the infrastructure, and the bridge demolitions are part of that strategy. Late on Sunday, an overpass leading to a bridge south of Baghdad was destroyed, and 3 American soldiers were killed and 6 wounded.

McClatchy reports that 17 bodies were found in the streets of Baghdad on Monday.

Late Sunday, the HQ in Iskandariya (south of Baghdad) of the Iraqi Islamic Party was completely destroyed in a massive blast. This Sunni Arab party has been cooperating with the US and has deputies and ministers in the al-Maliki government.

McClatchy reports that young Shiite nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is taking back control of his movement on reemerging after months in hiding. He has replaced 11 ward leaders, 2 of them in Baghdad.

al-Zaman reports in Arabic that deposed Iraqi speaker of the house Mahmud al-Mashhadani is rejecting his dismissal. He says he will resign if the president and the prime minister do, as well. He maintains that he was installed as part of a broader set of agreements that brought Jalal Talabani (president) and Nuri al-Maliki (PM) to power, and that the entire government will have to be renegotiated if he is dismissed. I doubt that argument will gain traction.

But there is a problem in getting a successor for al-Mashhadani. His party, the Iraqi Accord Front, may not have any eligible candidates that are well thought of. One element of his party coalition, the Iraqi Islamic Party, already has a vice presidency, andso won’t be given speaker. The speaker might come from the National Iraqi List of Iyad Allawi.

The al-Zaman article notes that the wrangling over this issue could go on a long time, that other legislative initiatives are likely to be neglected in the meantime, and that Bush has pressured parliament not to take a summer recess. The firing of al-Mashhadani is probably therefore th nail in the coffin for getting any of Bush’s benchmarks passed this summer.

Sawt al-Iraq says that Kurdish villages along the border with Turkey have been subjected to 90 artillery barrages in recent months. The Turks charge that the villages have given safe haven to PKK extremists that have blown up things inside Turkey.

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